I've been feeling a bit aimless in game lately, and thought that I might as well write about it. Warning: incoming ramble!
I've been rather annoyed with Galactic Command from the start. I pretty much hated the idea when I first found out about it. Nonetheless, I tried to give the system a fair shake when it actually came out, and I won't deny that I had fun during the first week at least, if for no other reason than that my inner explorer enjoyed jumping into different activities to see how everything worked. However, I was already tired of it by week two, for all the reasons I won't rehash here. I was very relieved when Bioware did at least some partial backpedalling in regards to how much we have to rely on those random Command crates very quickly. I'm happy to say that since 5.1, I 've pretty much been able to stop worrying about my Command rank at all. Instead I'm thinking about how to make the most out of combining operations drops with the new PvP gear upgrade system. Neither requires my constant focus, so I'm also free to play alts again.
Somewhat to my surprise, I'm not feeling very motivated though. For all the high level characters I already have, I've only taken three more up to 70 so far, even though levels 65 to 70 go by very quickly. I'm just lacking an incentive. What reason is there to even level up this far? I can actually only think of very few:
1) Difficult operations and challenging solo content like the Eternal Championship. Considering that you need gear for those and even with the already implemented improvements to gearing, gearing up at max level is still very grindy, it's still better to focus on one main for a while instead of spreading yourself too thin across multiple alts.
2) Starting the "Knights of" expansions requires level 60 (I think?), and questing your way through them sort of levels you up automatically. However, as I've said many times before: I don't like repeating such linear story content too often in too short an amount of time. Playthrough number three, only two months after launch, is already dragging a bit.
3) To do other content that is only accessible at 70. Um... uprisings? I think they are OK, but not so exciting that I want to level up additional alts purely to play them on different characters.
In fact, a lot of the things I enjoy in game don't require a very high level at all. The classic levelling game is by its very nature the domain of low-level characters, as it's not repeatable. You can access (nearly) all the classic flashpoints in the game from level 15. Story mode operations become accessible from level 50, which is somewhat higher but still a benchmark that most of my alts reached a long time ago. PvP is a go from level 15, GSF even from level 1.
I would even go so far as to say that a lot of this stuff is more fun when you're lower level. Lowbie PvP is a lot more straightforward and you don't have to worry about the gear gap that awaits you at 70. And regular flashpoints are a lot more fun when they actually challenge you and you get XP for running them!
Also, even after having been freed of the worst "shackles" of Galactic Command, it still leaves a sour taste in my mouth to constantly be reminded of it at level 70. It may be a bit irrational, but I'm actually a little annoyed when I log on an alt and the game reminds me that I'm "only" Command rank 10 on that one or whatever. Stop judging me, game!
It seems that SWTOR really is living up to the dream that is the opposite of something that sometimes gets criticised about WoW: that all the fun is focused on being at the level cap. In SWTOR, all the fun really is at the lower levels.
In many ways I appreciate that, but as I said at the beginning of this post, I'm also feeling a bit aimless right now. If I don't have something to strive for on my alts, what do I do with them? Other than log them once in a blue moon when I feel a sudden urge to do PvP as a dps Commando or run a random flashpoint as a lowbie Merc?
I think it's telling that the time I had the most fun with the game last year was probably during the much maligned Dark vs. Light event, because it gave me goals related to levelling. I also kept busy a lot by using lowbie characters for various "projects", such as my flashpoint levelling experiment or researching specific flashpoints once a fortnight to wrap up my Flashpoint Friday series. I guess I need to find myself some new projects for those alts below max level.